How to Construct a State

TOM GINSBURG — Tunisia’s constitution was born from a lucky confluence of capacity and cooperation. But the country’s real challenge may still lie ahead. 

Myths and Marginalization

FANAR HADDAD — Iraq’s sectarian competition has been much more about differences in national truths than religious ones.

On the Verge

MOHAMMED SHAREEF — Since 2003 Iraqi Kurdistan has changed from a pawn to an actor. Today this transformation is being put to the test.

Hezbollah’s New Ground

RODGER SHANAHAN — As the country wobbles, Lebanon’s “Party of God” advances narrow, sectarian interests as its regional capabilities increase.

Constructing Division

JOSEPH SASSOON — Endless violence has fundamentally cleaved Iraqi society. Yet there are no incentives to change this system.

Painting a Mixed Picture

THEO FARRELL — After 13 years of fighting, Afghan National Security Forces have assumed responsibility for all combat operations in their country. Now the real fight begins.

Between Definitions and Identities

ABBAS MILANI — In their efforts to forge a national identity Iran’s leaders have revealed deep chasms between social and political realities in the Islamic State.

The Bleakest Picture

AVI SHLAIM — Israel has constructed an “Iron Wall” of strength. But now its leaders refuse to emerge from behind it. 

“The Greatest Challenge”

Information at a glance from one of the P-WW’s contributors, Harith al-Qarawee, on the current developments in Iraq.

Beyond the Sect

HARITH AL-QARAWEE — A misguided discourse hides the deep secular and political roots of Iraq’s dramatic dissolution. 

Iraq at the Abyss

MATTHEW SCHWEITZER — The United States must pressure Maliki to enact political changes to prevent further disaster, that is, if Iraq has not already fallen into the abyss. 

An Unthreatening Storm

JOHN NAGL — The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) was kicked out of Al Qaeda for being too violent. It may soon be kicked out of Iraq, and history.

Lessons from the US War in Iraq: Ten Years Later

Few events of the last decade have loomed as large in US politics as the US decision to invade Iraq in March 2003. Ten years later, what is the lasting legacy of the… Continue reading

The Faces of Iraq’s Intelligentsia

The P-WW’s Editor discusses the plight of Iraq’s intellectual class at Al Jazeera English. This article is the first in a series for Al Jazeera about the decline of Iraq’s intelligentsia. READ THE… Continue reading

“Iraq Ten Years On: Ivory Tower Under Siege”

The P-WW’s Editor discusses the Iraqi university system at war in Le Monde Diplomatique, to mark the ten-year anniversary of the 2003 invasion: “The vast majority of the Iraqi academics feel that it… Continue reading

Rushing to the Finish

KENNETH M. POLLACK — When the United States withdrew from Iraq in 2011, they pulled the ground out from under a country still trying to find its political feet. The effects of this… Continue reading

The Kurdish Question

JOOST HILTERMANN — There is little that could prevent small local conflicts from escalating into an Arab-Kurdish battle, except a political desire for stability on both sides and a residual US mediating role.

Illusions of Peace

AARON DAVID MILLER — Israel and Palestine are poised uneasily between a peace they cannot have and a confrontation they try to avoid.

The New Great Power Arena

ALEXANDER COOLEY — United States strategy in Central Asia was guided by the Afghanistan conflict. This singular focus may come back to bite American policymakers during the next decade.

Conversations with the Taliban

THEO FARRELL — The Taliban are ready to negotiate. The US and NATO are the ones turning the cold shoulder.  

The One-State Solution

GEORGE BISHARAT – A two-state solution would be damaging to Palestinian rights, and impossible to achieve.

Driving Stability

BARBARA BODINE — The USS Cole tragedy illustrated Yemen as a country willing but often without the resources to aid in the American “War on Terror.”  

The Waiting Game

MARCIN ANDRZEJ PIOTROWSKI — For Poland, like many European nations, Afghan policy will be put on hold until after the United States gets the White House in order.

Opinion: The Wallists

SUMAYA BOUADI —  It was a generational shift in thought that guaranteed a revolution long before Mohammad Bouaziz ever sold fruit on Tunisian streets. 

NATO’s Afghan Report Card

STEN RYNNING — NATO earns a score of 6/10 for its cohesion, but only a 3/10 for strategic management. This assessment illuminates a stark contrast between the Alliance’s military successes and political disappointments. 

Understanding Reality

ROSEMARY HOLLIS — The British experience in Iraq taught the UK about the region, and its place in Europe. Yet many leaders are not interested in learning any lessons. 

Under the Table

STEPHEN STARR — Syria has its own silent majority, and it does not support the rebels or the regime.

Pakistan’s Woes

ROBERT M. HATHAWAY — Pakistan and the United States have fostered a shallow alliance in Afghanistan. Leaders on both sides are troubled by its effects. 

How Al Qaeda Failed

MICHAEL BAUER — Al Qaeda failed to establish its caliphate in Iraq. For European counterterrorist experts, that was never the point of the war. 

How Australia views Afghanistan

GEOFFREY GARRETT — Australia has always followed the United States into tricky situations. Afghanistan is no different.

Opinion: The Second Scramble

SHIRO WACHIRA – Is Iran barking up the wrong tree in Africa?

Navigating the Minefield

SAAD JAWAD – The 2003 invasion created a far more dangerous period for Iraqi intellectuals than under Saddam, and fractured Iraq’s political landscape.  

Tunisia Could Teach the Palestinians a Thing or Two

The P-WW’s own Editor, Matthew Schweitzer, discusses Tunisia’s Arab Spring experience and the lessons it could teach the Palestinian authorities, at the Jerusalem Post: “The nation that set the Arabic-speaking world on fire stands… Continue reading

Examining Religious Democracy

NOAH FELDMAN – Religion and democracy can coexist in the Middle East. Just look at Iraq and Tunisia.

Why Not to Attack Iran

COLIN KAHL – If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, it would destabilize the region. But it could also destabilize itself. And forget about it sharing those secrets with its proxies. 

Examining Saddam’s Iraq

AMATZIA BARAM – Saddam learned his own lessons from Iraq’s political history, and his conclusions were not that illogical. 

Misreading Russia in Syria

The P-WW’s own Editor, Matthew Schweitzer, discusses US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s June 12 accusations against Russia and Russian arms shipments to Syria at the Small Wars Journal: “To keep the Syrian war… Continue reading

Information at War

DAVID BETZ – When Information goes to war, the results might not be as unprecedented as one might think. 

Unmanned Warfare and Strategic Shift

BRUCE JENTLESON – In the Middle East, unlike in Vegas, what happens in one country does not stay in that country. 

Saudi Arabia’s Geopolitical Role

F. GREGORY GAUSE III – How can the international community understand Saudi Arabian politics? 

Discourse on Power

JOSEPH S. NYE – As leaders increasingly understand the character of power in international politics, the better their policy will become.

Memories from Afghanistan

JENNIFER HEATH – It is impossible to put a single face on Afghanistan, despite the West’s best attempts. 

Russia’s Syrian Ballet

EDWARD BURKE – It is important to remember that Russia’s involvement in Syria is based on Cold War memories.  

Envisioning Afghanistan

MUJIB MASHAL – An Al Jazeera reporter paints a picture of Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan’s Political Future

STEPHEN BIDDLE – To achieve victory in Afghanistan, the United States and NATO will have to compromise without betraying their key goals. 

What is Left in Iraq

NED PARKER – The war destroyed what little infrastructure Iraq had. And what’s worse, there is no precedent for building it again. 

The British Experience in Iraq

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN – The British decision to invade Iraq was based less on whether the operation was justified and more on whether the UK should follow their American allies. 

Afghanistan’s Report Card

NYT – This graphic from the New York Times helps to explain the general trends surrounding operations in the Afghanistan War. How can American leaders assess the efficacy of their operations in Iraq and… Continue reading

On Hegemony

NOAM CHOMSKY – The West has its own agenda for the Arab Spring and the region. 

On Syria

DANIEL BYMAN – What institutions can be used to pressure the Syrian regime, and what should be done if those mechanisms fail? 

US Military Presence Abroad

CATHERINE LUTZ – “There is nothing more American, in many ways, unfortunately, than a place bristling with weapons and soldiers.”

Why Attacking Iran is a Good Idea

 MATTHEW KROENIG – Attacking Iran might be risky, but the alternative is far worse.  

Perils of a Strike Against Iran

NYT – Recent US and Israeli wargames — held earlier in March 2012 — have simulated dangerous repercussions of an Israeli attack against Iranian nuclear facilities. These result are released amidst growing tension… Continue reading

On Mideast Peace

AARON DAVID MILLER – The problem with Mideast peace is that the conditions for it simply do not exist yet.

Judging Success in War

PETER D. FEAVER – Success in war is a complex, multifaceted subject that goes beyond the battlefield.

The Anthropology of Veteran Healthcare

ZOE H. WOOL – In the unique social world of a military hospital, many veterans are “alone in common.”

Human Rights and the Middle East

RICK HALPERIN – “Pick a country and it becomes apparent that it has a whole host of problems.”

“Attacking Iran”

ECONOMIST — Over recent days, the likelihood of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities has increased. President Obama, noting that diplomacy is still the best option, also remarked in the same speech that… Continue reading

“Police Killed in Iraq”

NYT – As American combat troops have withdrawn from the country, it seems that the internecine violence continues relatively unabated, if not with greater intensity. The greatest test for Iraqi security forces will… Continue reading

Video: “Military Drones and Democracy”

BROOKINGS – The use of unmanned drones in the modern military theatre has raised questions surrounding international sovereignty. But an equally important set of questions about this new global reach has been asked… Continue reading

Religion and Politics

AARON HAHN TAPPER – It is impossible to separate religious determination from a people’s will, especially in democracy. 

“Jumping Into Iraq Headfirst”

DAHR JAMAIL – Riding into Iraq at the back of a humanitarian aid convoy in 2003 to share the voices not often heard in war. 

Arming for the Future

WILLIAM HARTUNG – To arm for the future, the United States needs to move beyond the Cold War.

The Face of War

RICHARD K. BETTS – The War on Terror has blurred the lines of war and law enforcement.

War and Separatism

MATTHEW EVANGELISTA – The role that separatist groups play in shaping United States and western policy is greater than it may appear at first glance. 

“Churchill’s Hiccup”

KAREN CULCASI – “Maps and Might,” Part II: Now more than ever it is important to explore the world from a cartographic perspective.

American Militarism

ANDREW BACEVICH – We are today moving towards a multi-polar world, “although few in Washington are yet willing to acknowledge that.”

“The War Comes Home”

COST OF WAR – The Cost of War Project at Brown University seeks to chronicle the toll that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have taken on all involved parties, combatants and civilians… Continue reading

Dispatches from Cairo

KLAUS LARRES – Rushing to Tahrir Square to watch the culmination of diplomatic history.

National Security Law

WILLIAM C. BANKS – National Security Laws describe the parameters following which the US government can project its power internationally.

Allies’ Support Wane

NYT – The War in Afghanistan, like the late War in Iraq, has lasted too long for many of America’s allies, and as this article notes, America herself who is “looking for a… Continue reading

Of Maps and Might

  MARK MONMONIER – This interview marks the beginning of a two-part series exploring the power of maps. Now more than ever it is important to explore the world from a cartographic perspective.

The Looming Threat of Conflict

ECONOMIST – The Iranians have posed a problem to Washington before now, but in recent weeks the threat has intensified. Although Professor Milani noted that Iran may not pose an existential threat to… Continue reading

Iranian History Lesson

ABBAS MILANI – Iranian leaders today are learning all the wrong lessons from the Shah’s demise. 

Iraq Asserts its Sovereignty

NYT – It is difficult to tell if the recent assertion of authority by the Iraqi government following the withdrawal of US troops is a good sign. Many of the contractors detained work… Continue reading

“Rethinking US Strategy in Afghanistan”

MEQ – In Afghanistan a $100 billion per year war rages in a country whose GDP barely reaches $13 billion. The Taliban insurgency appears to be on the rise, with Shari’a law being redeclared… Continue reading

Opinion: Dealing With Political Islam

MICHAEL WILBURN – The West needs to come to terms with Political Islam now. 

Iran’s Strategic Backyard

FA – American combat troops have left Iraq, yet the country remains an ideological and diplomatic battleground. The rising tension between Iran and the United States is poised to overflow in Mesopotamia; Washington… Continue reading

Travelogue from Post-War Iraq

FP – A rare look into the everyday lives of those living in the war-torn regions of Iraq. Lives continue, yet following the withdrawal of American combat troops, the futures of these people… Continue reading

Drawing Down in Afghanistan

FA – Since the last combat troops have left Iraq, attention has shifted to America’s other war in Afghanistan. President Obama has declared that American military objectives have been largely achieved, and thus… Continue reading

Opinion: “Operation Iraqi Future”

PAUL SCOTT – Oil will create Iraqi instability, contrary to the hopes of many outside analysts.

Opinion: The Great Drain — A Pessimistic View of America’s Wartime Legacy

MATTHEW SCHWEITZER – The American-led wars in the Middle East were a waste.

Who Is Maliki?

REUTERS – As Iraq moves forward into an era of supposed democracy, it is crucial to begin to understand the country’s leader. When PM Maliki first took office, the question was whether he… Continue reading

“How We Lost the Peace in Iraq”

SWJ – For a look into the post-war failures of the US Government in Iraq during the occupation years, read this article from the venerable “Small Wars Journal.”

Iraq’s Judicial Growing Pains

NYT – The Iraqi security forces — pushed by the need to prove their efficacy in a dangerous period — have turned to the media to broadcast images of their successes. Detainees —… Continue reading

US Looks to Shift Strategic Focus

WP – As US President Barack Obama moves forward from the end of the Iraq War, the current American diplomatic and military establishment seeks to “forget” the conflicts that they inherited from the… Continue reading